You know how important it is to keep your kids’ teeth clean and healthy, even when they’re very young. However, some kids resist getting their teeth cleaned, which can be frustrating for parents. Whether you have a baby, a toddler, or a school-aged kid, you’ll find some of the tips listed here useful in teaching kids to brush and floss!
1. Allow them to brush their own teeth.
For some kids, everything is a power struggle. If this sounds like your kid, you might want to let them have the opportunity to brush their own teeth rather than always doing it yourself. You could let them brush their teeth for a while and then finish up the job for them. Or you could do the brushing first and then let them have the final round.
2. Brush your teeth while they brush theirs!
Kids love to imitate, so break out your own toothbrush and lead by example. Allow them to hold their own toothbrush and tell them to do what you do. Then if you need to brush their teeth to thoroughly clean their teeth, let them brush yours first!
3. Use colorful flossers designed for kids.
It’s never too early to learn how important flossing is. Use single flossers, in fun colors and shapes, and make it a part of your kids’ toothbrushing routine.
4. Give them a toothbrush to use on a doll.
Whether it’s a baby doll, a girl doll, or a Transformers robot, give your kids the opportunity to be in charge and clean their doll’s teeth. They’re more likely to let you brush their teeth when they’ve done the same to their little ones. You could buy a doll designed for this purpose, but you could just as easily use a doll you already have and a small toothbrush from the store.
Explain that teeth can become dirty and yellow when they are not cleaned regularly. For some kids, the idea of yellowed teeth isn’t pleasant and will encourage them to take toothbrushing seriously. You could even find pictures of bad teeth online and show them. However, it’s very important not to scare them about going to the dentist by talking about drills and the sort! You don’t want them to be scared about going to the dentist. Rather, focus on the natural consequences of not brushing their teeth.
6. Make brushing their teeth a lot of fun!
Show them that it’s ok to dance and make faces while brushing their teeth! Look into the mirror together and have fun laughing and making all sorts of faces. Some kids love to growl and make animal noises as they bare their teeth to be brushed. And always make brushing their teeth sound like a FUN activity! Say things like, “Know what? It’s time to… BRUSH YOUR TEETH! YAY!”
7. Examine your kids’ teeth and tell them what you find.
To get kids to really understand the importance of brushing their teeth, you could ask them to open wide to show you their teeth. Maybe you’ll actually see some bits of food, but you can just say things that you know they’ve eaten earlier that day. “I see bacon! Did you eat broccoli today? I see some green bits! Wait a minute… is that a dragon tail? Did you eat a dragon?” After brushing, you could check again and declare it all clean.
8. Start early, even before the first tooth shows up.
Use a washcloth or a finger toothbrush to clean their gums and however many teeth they have. Alternatively, you could give them a handheld “toothbrush” that has a protective ring that prevents them from sticking it too far down their throat. This will help them become familiar with using a toothbrush from an early age. Make sure you take your turn, though, so they are used to you “brushing” their teeth. You could start doing this when your baby turns 6 months old, since this is usually when babies start to eat.
Maybe you’ve tried everything, but your child just refuses to let you brush their teeth. Some dentists actually recommend parents to brush their children’s teeth when they are asleep. Obviously, this method works better with kids who are heavy sleepers.
10. Let kids choose their own toothbrush.
These days, you can find toothbrushes in all colors, sizes, shapes, and with fun characters on them. Many kids also love electric toothbrushes, so encourage your kids to try those!
11. Read books about brushing teeth.
Some kids learn best through reading, so try checking out a couple of books from the library or purchasing a great book on oral hygiene that your child can refer to again and again. Check out this fun pop-up book, this rhythmic board book, this book that warns about sugar bugs, or this book with a great title that was written by a dentist.
12. Use a toothbrushing app.
Yes, technology has found its way into all aspects of our lives, including over the sink! There are apps that may help your child become more motivated to brush her teeth. Lulu Brush Time includes a timer, a cute character, and badges for good brushing habits.
13. Use a wash and brush timer.
If you’d rather not bring a smartphone into a wet area, try a wash and brush timer. This timer also includes a nightlight, making it easy for your kids to find the bathroom during middle-of-the-night nature calls!
It’ll take only a minutes of your time to whip up a couple of colorful and glittery DIY toothbrush timers for each of your kids! Shake up these timers and have your kids brush as long as the glitter moves around. When everything is settled at the bottom (after around two minutes), your kids can stop brushing their teeth.
15. Take your child with you to the dentist.
If your young child can sit through a dentist cleaning, have them come with you! Have the dentist talk about how important it is to keep teeth clean and your child can watch and see how teeth are cleaned. What an educational experience!
16. Do an egg experiment to teach about oral hygiene.
This egg experiment is really cool and will teach your kids the effects of coffee and soda on the teeth and how brushing teeth will help clean and protect the teeth. Let kids come to their conclusions as they see the changes on the egg shells! And here’s many more activity ideas that teach kids about teeth!
What tips and tricks do you have for helping your kids to brush their teeth? I’ve seen free checklists and incentive charts, which could be great for older kids. Share your tips in the comments!
“I’m Elisa and I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two little girls. I used to teach reading and writing, but now I stay at home with my two kiddos and read and write in my spare time. I also love to undertake DIY projects, find new recipes on Pinterest, and dream about someday finally completing our home. Above all, I love to learn about new things and sharing my new-found knowledge with others.”
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